A Deep Dive into Sports Analytics Jobs & Changing Careers into Sports

By Brian Clapp | October 23, 2017

Sports Job Q&A Podcast Session - Your Questions Answered

Hi I’m Brian Clapp Director of Content for WorkinSports.com and this is the WorkinSports podcast.

A couple of weeks ago I received an email question from Alex Romero, who is on active duty in the US Navy. I answered his question in great detail, and was proud to help someone humbling serving our nation.work in sports podcast sports industry advice

And then I received this email from Jacob Kernan:

Hey Brian, I’ve really been loving the podcast! Your portion of the most recent podcast where you answered the veteran’s questions about gameday operations was particularly helpful for me, as a recently released veteran. I actually know two guys who are directors of gameday operations for minor league teams that I met working for the Savannah Bananas this summer. I’d love to hook him up with an introduction to them so he can get some advice if you could send my a link to his LinkedIn.

As you probably guessed – I did. I connected the two of them and now they are compadres chatting and trying to help advance and support one another.

And that’s when it really hit me --  this thing, this podcast where we share information, valuable information for free with our audience is a really powerful tool and community for all of us. This moment, meant the world to me and selfishly I want more moments like it. I want more moments where I feel like I helped people on their journey – so this is a long way of saying – we’re going to two podcast episodes per week. Starting…..now.

We’ll do one that focuses on an interview with an industry expert – and we’ll do another which is just me, answering specific fan questions. The fan question episode will be on Mondays, the interview on Wednesdays. Sound good?

Now to make this work – I want your questions. Please. I can make them up and fake that they came from my cousin Steve in Missouri, but I don’t want to do that, I want authentic questions from all of you out there listening….and I see the download numbers, there are a lot of you. So ask. Either I will help, or someone in our growing community. It will not hurt.

Comment below, hit me up on LinkedIn or email me at bclapp at workinsports.com

First question comes from Steve in Missouri --- just kidding, wanted to see if you were paying attention. Nope this one is from Mary K in Lincoln Nebraska.

Turning Your Dead End Job into a Sports Career - Work in Sports Podcast Fan Mail Question

Hi Brian, I’ve been in a typical job for 10 years now but I’m bored, stuck and unmotivated. How do I get out of this world and into the sports world? I have sports fans knowledge, but how do I seel myself to potential employers?

The reason I picked may’s question to start things off is because I’ve recived at least 10 others like it. This is a common problem – people enter into jobs they don’t love and all they can think about is, am I going to die in this cubicle? Is this good enough?

Here’s your 5 part plan to get out from under your malaise:

1: Analyze yourself and your skills – who are you, what have you learned, what do you know, what do you have expert knowledge of and how does that transfer. You haven’t spent a decade leanring nothing – so what is it. Write out the skills you have. Sales? Marketing? Writing? Management? Teaching? Who are you?

What are your accomplishments? Did you reduce budget spending by 10%? Increase social media followers by 25%? Sports are still a business guided by the same principles of growth and management.

2: Self-Audit time – job descriptions where do you line up?

3: Goals -- The first phases were about discovering who you are, now we’re going to put a plan together for who you want to be.

Now that you know what skills you need to get where you want, it’s time to put an action plan into place:

In phase two, we discussed the discovery of skills that are needed in various sports careers. Now we can turn that discovery into specific measurable goals, like:

  • Over the next three months I will learn Microsoft CRM

  • I will take an online class to learn Final Cut Pro editing by June

  • By Thanksgiving I will learn how Google Adwords works and the strategies behind it

  • In the next three years I’m going to acquire all the skills necessary to find a job behind the scenes in sports broadcasting

4: Study the industry –

Being up to speed in the sports industry does not mean you know who won the big game last night, or came in second in your fantasy football league. It means you understand the business going on behind the operation.

Start reading trade magazines and blogs, there is a bevy of free information out there that you need to start being familiar with in these sectors:

  • Sports Law

  • Sports Broadcasting Rights

  • Ticket Sales

  • Ratings

  • Sports Merchandising

  • Sports Technology

Educate yourself in these areas if you are going to break free from your dead end world.

5: Volunteer – yo uwon’t be able to intern unless you are getting college credit and your need experience, so volunteer – road race in town, volunteer, golf event, volunteer. Special Olympics – volunteer.

When I spoke to Amber Cox on last weeks podcast – VP of the Connecticut Sun and NE Black Wolves she said,  if someone does a lot of internships I can see they have ambition and drive, and that means a great deal.

Same thing if you are trying o change career paths – who you have drive by volunteering often.

6: Final step – be prepared to start low. You may have to take a step back to go forward. Just set reasonable expectations and know you are in this for the long journey, you want to be doing what you want!

Ok second fan mail question –

How to Start a Career in Sports Analytics - Work in Sports Podcast Fan Mail Question

This one is from Ernest Bell and it came in from LinkedIn –

Hello Mr. Brian Clapp, I have requested your connection in hopes of understanding more of how to begin my career in statistics within professional sports. I would love to pursue a career but have no experience but I love baseball, basketball, and football. I would love to learn more and begin stepping my foot into the world of professional sport statistics.

Analytics are all the rage, so who can blame you Ernest!

Couple of notes –

Sometimes people wonder if they are too late to the party… is the analytics growth cycle over? Am I getting in too late?

According to our friends at Sports Management Worldwide – their research says no, this field is still in it’s infancy. Every team in professional sports has a growing analytics team, primarily becaszue it has shown to have a connection to winning performance… but it also helps in roster manipulation, free agent signings, resource allocation, dynamic ticket pricing and so much more.

Personally, I think you will start to see larger college programs especially in football and basketball, develop larger analytics teams. College sports are huge business, and athletic directors are wise to invest in this field.

The other part of analytics we haven’t even touched on is outside of the play on the field namely in fantasy sports, gambling, software development,  media companies/blogging – data analysis has no signs of slowing down.

Now, as for how to get a career rolling in this field. There are a couple of options – more and more colleges are offering programs in sports analytics – Syracuse, northwestern, temple – just to name a few. These courses take an indepth approach to statistics, data mining and manipulation and more.

If going back to traditional college isn’t an answer there are also online courses – as I mentioned Sports Management Wordlwide offers online analytics courses in hockey, basketball, soccer, football and baseball taught by some big names in the industry. So that is another option.

If I were you Ernest, I’d try to find a mentor or at least someone you could chat with directly about the industry – look through linkedIn and see who has a background in sports analytics and see if you can get them to engage you in a dialogue. Just the other day someone  the executive director of the Center for Sports Analytics at Samford University connected with me, so the influencers are out there.

Matter of fact – he could be a great podcast guest… I may need to write that down.

Ernest – bottom line, get educated in the specifics of the industry one way or another and then look for ways to break in whether it be with a small college, minor league team, 3rdparty software developer, fantasy site…there are many options out there for educated analysts!

Just to hammer this home – doing a quick search – currently 344 jobs on work in sports with the keyword Analytics in them. That’s a good start.

Hope this helps everyone – thanks for doing this, send me more questions – and tune in next week, I think we may try to do this on Facebook Live, which means I’ll have to shower.

Until then…

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